UK MP’s held a debate around that tricky subject called vaping yesterday with calls for the TPD to be pretty much torn up and a need to educate the public on the benefits of e-cigs.
The debate held in Westminster Hall was a sparsely attended affair – with on the whole most of the MP’s that spoke putting vaping and e-cigarettes in a positive light.
There were a couple of cringe-worthy moments with the usual nod that vaping attracts kids and leads none smokers into smoking – *sighs* – but hey our elected representatives have to be seen to do…I just wish they’d change the record.
Indeed health minister Steven Brine MP shut the door on that argument – quite forcibly I might add – more on that later.
Quite bizarrely Sandy Martin MP [Ipswich – Labour] interrupted the opening speech by debate opener – Gareth Johnson the Conservative MP for Dartford – saying he was concerned the newly found positive message that vaping was considerably safer than smoking might and I quote:
…encourage pregnant women to start vaping when they are not already smoking.
Now that was a toe curling coffee spitting moment to say the least lol – where do they get these crazy ideas?
Oh and please when discussing vaping get a little bit more ‘street wise‘ they are vaping devices or mods and NOT ‘vape machines‘ – lol.
Sorry back to the debate…
Mr Johnson’s opening preamble was pretty positive around vaping if I’m honest though his conclusion that vaping was the ‘magic bullet‘ to help smokers quit was dismissed by pro vaping Labour MP Sharon Hodgson from Washington and Sunderland West who said:
E-cigarettes, however, must never be seen as a silver bullet to achieve our vision of a smoke-free society. E-cigarettes are a crucial player in the cessation landscape, but they are not the only player.
I was on the whole pretty impressed with Gareth Johnson’s positive spin on vaping and agreed with him the public’s perception [and many so called health professionals come to that] of vaping being as bad or worse for your health than smoking needs to be addressed urgently.
Unfortunately, statistics show that more and more people are viewing vaping as more dangerous than smoking. Vaping is clearly a lot safer than smoking tobacco, but unfortunately the public perception is different from the facts presented by reputable organizations.
TPD Is “Ludicrous!”
On the subject of the TPD he also got a nod from me by calling some aspects of that ridiculous piece of EU legislation as ‘ludicrous‘ even going as far as holding up a ‘vape machine‘ oops sorry I meant ‘mod’ showing the crazy nicotine warning label – even though as we all know ‘vape devices’ don’t actually contain any nicotine!
…in my view, the EU tobacco products directive was wrong to incorporate vaping, which should have been dealt with separately.That ludicrous approach is illustrated in the regulations that companies have to follow. If someone buys a vaping machine, the machine has to have a warning on it that it contains nicotine. The one I have here, which was sent out by a company called Totally Wicked, says,
“This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance”.
They all have to comply with that requirement. The silly thing is, of course, that the machine does not contain nicotine—but it says it does, because it has to as a consequence of the EU directive. It contains nicotine only when e-liquid is added to the product; it is not included in the product.
Companies have to put a caveat at the bottom of the product to say that the statement is not true, so that they do not get prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. That is one illustration of the ludicrous nature of an approach that lumps vaping products in with tobacco products, and that expects vaping organizations to act in exactly the same way as those involving tobacco.
He also called for a complete re-think of the TPD and asked The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health Steve Brine MP to seek a meeting with the vaping industry in preparation to take a long hard look at such regulations in 2019.
Vaping is NOT A Gateway To Smoking For Kids – UK Health Minister
Vaping MP Gloria De Piero Labour MP for Ashfield said smoking vs vaping was a ‘class issue‘ particularly in her Nottingham constituency and called for vaping to be ‘tax-free‘ adding:
In my constituency of Nottinghamshire, there is a class dimension to this. Of those in managerial and professional occupations, 8% are still smoking cigarettes; that rises to 26% of those in routine and manual occupations in the Nottinghamshire population, so this is a social justice issue as well as a health issue.
Vaping is much cheaper and safer, so it should not be taxed, and people should stop deterring it in public places. The hon. Gentleman is right: we have finally found a way to stop smoking. We should celebrate it, and I say that as somebody who has stopped smoking and now vapes.
BTW I did try to get an interview with Ms De Piero about vaping back in the summer – if you’re reading this please check your spam folder 😉
The even trickier subject of the ‘heat not burn‘ products was raised by Mrs Hodgson MP who asked the minister:
Will the Minister also outline plans to evaluate heat not burn? Although not vaping, such products are something else on the market seen as a way of limiting and reducing harm from smoking. The impact of those devices needs further research.
Responding to the debate and the matters raised The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health Steve Brine MP tried once and for all to shut the door on that tired old myth that vaping is a gateway to smoking – particularly for young people:
…there is no great evidence in the UK that vaping is leading young people to smoke. There is some evidence that some young people experiment with e-cigarettes, but that regular e-cigarette use is confined almost entirely to young people who have smoked, so it is the gateway out as opposed to the gateway in.
Wow I bet you won’t see that headline in any of the mainstream media any time soon!
UK Vape Industry Worth £1 Billion Per Year
Mr Brine MP also praised the UK’s vape industry saying:
There is a vibrant e-cigarette market in the UK—in many ways it is a business success story—with nearly 2.4 million users. The industry is worth nearly £l billion to the UK economy. It started out as small, independent, non-tobacco-industry organizations —a cottage industry—intent on designing solutions for people to get the benefits of nicotine delivery without the harms of smoking.
As to the relatively new phenomenon and Big Tobacco backed ‘heat not burn‘ products he said ‘little was known about them‘ adding:
Two heat-not-burn products have been notified for use on the UK market as novel tobacco products. It is important to stress that, even in comparison with e-cigarettes, that market is relatively new and very small-scale in the UK. We simply do not know enough about those products.
We will continue to adopt a pragmatic, sensible and cool-headed approach to regulation based on the best possible public health advice, which I receive from advisers including Public Health England.
As part of that approach, my Department has asked the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment to give a view about those products’ potential harm reduction in comparison with conventional smoking. The committee is due to respond later this year.
Gareth Johnson MP ended the debate by saying:
No one pretends that e-cigarettes and vaping are without risk, but they may be the best hope we have ever had for helping people to quit smoking, which is what this debate is all about. Vaping could save millions of lives worldwide.
It should therefore be looked at very seriously, with an open mind and an evidence-based approach. If we do that and take advantage of the opportunities that vaping brings for the health and well being of people in this country and worldwide, the whole world will be better as a consequence.
The Vape Debate Conclusions?
Just like the debate I covered by the Science and Technology committee last week nothing can magically happen after these kind of meetings – Government isn’t as simple as that!
However it’s good to see the sea-change in thinking by the UK Government towards e-cigarettes and vaping – long may it last.
But hey please stop referring to them as ‘vaping machines‘ lol.
Whilst I like the now seemingly constant call for a more positive spin on vaping in the mainstream media we’re still not seeing much evidence of that at all!
Maybe some of these MPs should push it a little harder – and hey my notebook is always open should they wish to do an interview…*coughs* Gloria De Piero 😉
Despite the low turnout it has to be said we may have begun turning the corner on getting vaping and e-cigarettes accepted in the mainstream – but this is no time to become complacent there’s still a long road to go…
Because as we all know far to often politicians have a nasty habit of resting on their laurels until it’s election time that is 😉
You can watch the repeat of the full 90+ minute debate here: Parliament Live TV [starts at 9.30am]
Or read the Hansard Transcript.